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There is no doubt that the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform is complicated. It is about land resources; securing our borders, north and south; managing our country's abilities to progress; and, it is especially about how we as a country value our human resources. In practice, the issues in Arizona are not new to the millions of Mexican Americans whose families have lived in the southwest since it was part of Mexico and before the territory became part of the United States. Neither is it new for Mexican Americans to be terrorized by those who think they have ownership of the United States of America.

What is new is the blatant and broad attacks on women and children of any Hispanic origin. The cruelty demonstrated is creating an environment of fear for innocent children who worry whether their parents will be deported, even in instances where the parents are here legitimately. Things have been allowed to go too far when zealots proclaiming to be "protectors of America" stoop so low as to ask if Dora the Explorer, one of the most beloved cartoon characters for ALL children, is an illegal immigrant.

It is quite disturbing to see the Washington Post and the Associated Press contributing to the negative images of Latinos portrayed in the media. This exemplifies the civility that has been lost in our current culture and in the political debate over immigration reform. Not even an educational cartoon character is safe in the current climate from prejudice and is being cast under a shadow of doubt merely for the color of her skin.

This comes on the heels of the story about a school girl asking Mrs. Obama what will happen to her mother who, "doesn't have papers". These two stories underscore the tremendous toll that is being taken on children and families, whose only agenda is to make a better life than they could have otherwise in their countries of origin.

The old adage, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem" holds true in this case. It is not enough to vilify Arizona legislation, SB1070, or talk about the importance of immigration reform when the cameras are rolling, yet sit by idly as our children and families continue to suffer. Media messages such as questioning the immigration status of Dora the Explorer make light of issues that affect people's lives and take the focus away from the serious work that needs to be done.

We will no longer allow ourselves to be thought of as cartoon characters. We will no longer allow ourselves to be the objects of racial profiling, discrimination, or other hateful messages. It is time for our fellow human beings to show the same level of respect and consideration they would ask for in return. All we ask for is equality.

Said MANA President and CEO, Alma Morales Riojas, "Good citizens of this country know where our strengths lie, in each other. Lest we forget, other than Native Americans and Mexicans who lived in what is now the United States we are all immigrants. It is time for Congress and the Administration to take necessary action and correct the laws before a rogue, vigilante mentality spreads through this country." She continues, "Then our greatest fear will not be of who crosses our borders but of how those living within can live and work with each other."

About MANA, A National Latina Organization
MANA, A National Latina Organization, is a nonprofit advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. With chapters across the country, it is the oldest national Latina membership organization in the United States. MANA, whose mission is to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service, and advocacy, envisions a national community of informed Latina activists working to improve the quality of life for all Hispanics. MANA also has the only national Latina mentoring program for girls 11 to 18, known as "HERMANITAS®."

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